Our own Dr Jim Ironside appeared as a guest speaker on the ABC radio program Nightlife earlier this week alongside physiotherapist Francine St George. The pair gave some insight from their prospective industries about jaw pain migraines, headaches, and other chronic pains. Dr Ironside discussed bruxism (teeth grinding), TMD and their interconnected relationship with aches and pains throughout the body.
If you missed the broadcast, the podcast is still available on the ABC website here:
Dr Ironside covers topics including the treatment, technology, and symptoms associated with the TMD and Bruxism. If you experience headaches, migraines or jaw pain, or if you have in the past, this podcast is well worth a listen!
Stress, bruxism and TMD
Combined stress and bruxism (grinding of the teeth) can be a contributing factor of headaches, migraines and chronic neck and back pain. Stress and bruxism can also lead to a greater problem – Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), and this will often be the root cause of migraines and associated chronic pains.
TMD can be triggered by pain anywhere in the body. For example, poor posture at work can lead to lower back pain and actually be the instigator of TMD, which in turn, causes headaches and migraines.
Until just recently, the impact of combined stress, bruxism and TMD has been swept under the rug. Advancements in dental technologies and other associated medical fields are now revealing the interconnected causes that are to blame for most cases of chronic migraines, neck and back pains.
In other words, it is unlikely your migraine and chronic pain are being triggered by a single catalyst, but rather, a range of associated symptoms. From stress and bruxism to poor posture and TMD. All of these issues are interconnected.
Dr Ironside is a prosthodontist with over twenty years experience. He has witnessed first-hand, over the course of the past two decades, the debilitating effect stress, TMD, chronic neck and back pain, have on Sydney residents and employers living and working in the city.
Many younger people have to deal with stresses of living in Sydney. The costs, mortgages, plus the added pressure of working down the big, investment end of town, where everyone is constantly under pressure to perform.
On a day to day basis, Dr Ironside meets with patients suffering from the combined triggers causing migraines and chronic pain.
Dr Ironside discussing the impact of TMD:
“I think employers underestimate the effect this has on the overall business environment and work productivity. People are underperforming because they’re in chronic pain, due to head and neck pain, which some doctors put down to a basic migraine. But migraines are often triggered by TMD and other associated risk factors.”
“Patients are well and truly off their game because they’ve always got this chronic pain. It starts as a dull ache in the morning caused by grinding through the night, it builds up during the day, and by the end of the day, people are saying to the boss ‘look I’ve got a migraine, I’ve gotta go home.’ The amount of sick leave attributed to this is severely underestimated.”
How your dentist can help
The nature of dentistry has changed dramatically over the past decade. The big technological shift with jaw pain and TMD is the use of MRI and other forms of CT scans aside from the general clinical diagnosis methods.
A vital part of dentistry is in helping patients resolve a migraine and chronic pain issues. A patient suffering from the triggers of a migraine and chronic pain should be referred to a specialist dentist or prosthodontist. A prosthodontist can then work out which other medical professionals, whether that be in physiotherapy or neurology, are required to help that patient through that pain.
CT scans and MRI’s allow dental specialists to determine precisely if TMD is the core trigger of migraines, headaches, and other chronic pains.
A CT scan of the jaw opening and closing allows a patient to understand what is really happening in their jaw joint, particularly if there is a problem. A patient can understand a CT much more easily, than an MRI.